Promoting a safe and healthful workplace where sending an employee, visitor or contractor home safely at the end of the day is more important than anything. You just cannot put a dollar amount to that; the value is immeasurable. In this article, I want to touch upon the Value of Safety, and how Mainstay, being structural engineers, is in a strong position to help end users realize measurable benefits by being proactive regarding fall protection in the design phase. We believe that fall protection and structural engineering is a match made in heaven.
End users incur a lot of overhead costs in managing risk and eliminating fall hazards. The built environment is constantly changing, but it seems that, too often after project closeout, of a super awesome and enginerdy space, the end user is saying to us, “It looks great, it performs the intended function flawlessly, and it’s not falling down; but how do we safely access it on a weekly basis?”
Such a comment usually ends up costing end users more to abate after a space has been fit out and is operational than if it was identified and addressed during the design phase. Or, worse yet, it forces them to settle for a less preferable means of control, such as going with an active personal fall arrest system over an access platform. Could it get any worse? Yes! What if that “cool thing-a-ma-jobber” could have easily been relocated to an accessible location at no additional cost to the project if the hazard potential was identified during the design phase?
“That all sounds good Ryan, but which discipline would be responsible to make sure that our project is designed to current OSHA regulations?” Well, with the resources being allocated by many of our end users to fall hazard abatement and management, I think that it is time to really start talking about making a dedicated project discipline for fall hazards and “OSHA Space” walking-working surfaces that aren’t governed by the building codes. When an end user is willing to invest in this as a project discipline, their buildings will be safer and they will realize a positive return on investment, both monetarily and operationally. When a project design team is willing to commit to this as a project discipline, they will set themselves apart from the competition.
The reality of it is that even in the design stage, it is still just too easy to say that safety is everyone’s responsibility. Although that is certainly true to an extent – particularly regarding being able to identify a potential hazard – it really downplays the complexity of hazard assessment and active system design, the commitment required to become versed in piles of regulations and best practice specifications, and understanding the challenges that end users face in managing a fall protection program.
At Mainstay, we have committed ourselves to developing a team of subject matter experts and are ready to help when you need us. But remember, all of us can showcase exceptional value to the end user by recommitting ourselves to an awareness of the regulations and an ability to identify potential hazards. Have you glanced over the first revision since 1971 of OSHA’s general industry regulations for walking-working surfaces that went into effect January 17, 2017? There are a lot of revisions and updates in there which carry substantial implication to our end users and to our design projects…..
Moving forward, I will be featuring a safety article into our newsletter. If there are any specific topics or questions you’d like me to address please do not hesitate to call or email me directly.